James Robinson is recipient of the 2014 Hopkinson Memorial Literature Award, given annually for the best article or series published in The United States Specialist during the past year. The award, which includes a plaque and honorarium, is for his “Unrecorded Early Use of the First Electric-Eye Issue – The Fourth Bureau 2¢ Washington Rotary of 1935.” The article appeared in the April, 2014 issue.
The award has been given annually since 1954 in memory of the late Walter W. Hopkinson. It was established by his widow, Mrs. Constance B. Hopkinson, to honor her husband’s interest in philatelic scholarship and to support the dissemination of research and knowledge through the Society’s publications.
The selection committee was comprised, as usual, of the three most recent awardees: Kevin Lowther (acting as chair), Ken Lawrence and Richard Nazar. Robinson’s winning article, which was vetted by the Marginal Markings Committee, is a well-documented analysis of the introduction of stamps printed on specially-marked rotary press plates, using electric-eye technology to guide the perforating process. Although experimentation began years earlier, the first “electric eye” stamp issued — the then-current 2¢ definitive (Scott #634) — was not shipped to post offices until early February, 1935. This was done without public notice. Robinson’s well-researched article provides in-depth background on how this happened and why documenting early uses of these stamps remains a challenge. A list of previous winners of the award can be found here.